The feds will soon be looking for a new cannabis supplier. And today, there are more eligible growers than ever before.
Later this month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will accept proposals from entities capable of the “Production of Cannabis and Related Materials for Research.” This July 12 presolicitation announcement follows the agency’s request for information via a “sources sought” notice in May.
NIDA has long served as a sort of gatekeeper for research in the U.S. involving cannabis. For decades, the University of Mississippi has been NIDA’s supplier of cannabis for research and, until last year, it was the sole Drug Enforcement Administration-licensed cannabis grower.
But the DEA has awarded a handful of new licenses over the past year, marking the first expansion of the number of federally-licensed growers, as Cannabis Wire has reported. Today, there are six.
Therefore, this forthcoming RFP is the first time the entities that were newly awarded DEA licenses are eligible for an opportunity to directly supply the federal government.
For now, NIDA expects to award one contract for five years, a significant get for the company that is selected. It is not yet clear how much the contract will be worth, but the current University of Mississippi contract, in place since 2014, is $16.5 million.
The awardee will be required to complete seven tasks, which includes providing thousands of kilograms of cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) cannabis and “placebo cannabis,” as well as cannabinoids and cannabinoid extracts.
More information about the opportunity will be included in the RFP, which is expected to be released “on or about July 28, 2022,” according to the notice.
NIDA’s interest and investment in cannabis research has risen in recent years. The agency’s recent efforts have included an unprecedented funding announcement in September, as Cannabis Wire reported, and issuing “Special Interest” notices for “Public Health Research on Cannabis” this year and in 2019 to “encourage grant applications on the effects of changing cannabis laws and policies in the US and globally on public health.”
“Policies around … cannabis products (including whole plant cannabis and cannabis constituent compounds) in the United States (and globally) continue to evolve, and far outpace the knowledge needed to determine the public health impacts of these changes,” the 2022 notice reads.